BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

Government unveils £10m tourism voucher scheme

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A new rail pass and vouchers for popular tourist attractions are at the heart of a plan to return domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels by 2022 and international tourism by 2023.

A £10 million voucher scheme will be launched by the National Lottery this autumn to encourage trips beyond the peak summer season.

Players will have the chance to claim vouchers to redeem at tourist attractions across the UK between September and March next year.

A rail pass for “staycationers” will be launched later this year, helping to make it easier and more sustainable for domestic tourists to get around the country.

The new pass will build on the success of the BritRail pass, which is sold through VisitBritain and currently gives international visitors flexible travel across the country, as well as providing discounted entry to tourism attractions.

There will be a new focus on technology and data.

The government will explore how tourism data collected at the border can support the sector and we will look to create a tourism data hub to give the sector access to robust, accessible and timely data.

The hub could track consumer trends in travel, such as the growth in “active tourism” such as watersports and hiking, and booking of sustainable tourism experiences.

The data gathered will help inform policy and marketing whilst working to improve visitor experience.

The government will develop a Sustainable Tourism Plan later this year to put the UK at the forefront of the global discussion on sustainable travel.

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This will look at further measures to reduce the impact of tourism on the environment while balancing the needs of local communities with the economic benefits generated by tourism.

Tourism minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: “Our brilliant tourism sector is one of our country’s greatest assets, making a huge contribution to our economy and delivering jobs across all communities.

“The Tourism Recovery Plan is our blueprint for how the sector can build back better from the pandemic, even faster than forecasts predict.

“It’s been a challenging year for the tourism sector, especially for our cities, but I know they stand ready to welcome visitors back and I encourage everyone to rediscover the UK’s fantastic tourism offer.”

Pre-pandemic, England looked set to hit 100 million domestic overnight trips in 2020.

In 2019, 41 million international visitors came to the UK for business or leisure, spending over £28 billion whilst here and putting the UK in the top 5 countries globally for inbound visitor spending.

However, the sector has been hugely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with cities among the most impacted areas.

UKHospitality welcomed what it called a “positive announcement”.

UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “We are delighted to see the government recognising the key role hospitality and tourism plays in the UK with this new plan.

“The people and businesses in these sectors will be the power driving the recovery, in levelling-up, and in building back better as we emerge from the pandemic.

“The sector is a huge employer of people and investor in local communities and will pay forward to both any support it is given.”

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